Dear Readers: Each New Year I do a column on what I consider the most crucial issue of our time. This year that issue is what I call The Male Crisis.
Males are in trouble. Of all the American adults behind bars, on probation or parole, 93 percent are male. Males in America are five times more likely than females to commit suicide. Drug abuse, alcoholism, homicide, homelessness, violence — all are significantly dominated by males.
Those red flags have been waving at us for some time now. There are new flags, however, hoisted in the last generation, so new and so foreign that many people aren’t seeing the bright red cloth.
For instance, did you know university campuses are now dominated by females? Last year, the student body of the average four-year college was 58 percent female, 42 percent male. At some larger universities, there are two females for every male. Most girls enrolled will earn a degree. Most boys will not. Compare this to 1959 when 64 percent of the average student body was male and it was girls who tended to drop out.
Girls today are smart and driven. Boys today are laid-back and unmotivated.
From kindergarten to college to middle age, males have lost their drive. One third of men ages 22 to 34 are now living with their parents (a 100 percent increase over the last 20 years). The New York Times recently documented the trend of able-bodied men throughout the nation who are neither working nor looking for work. One in seven men in the prime of life, mostly white, mostly middle class, often college educated, has no interest in working.
Of course there are still intense, passionate young men who are striving toward success and independence, but they are the exception. Most follow the “slacker-dude” profile, preferring to take a subsistence-level job, play video games, and “just have fun.”
Did you know that the sperm count of a young man today is less than half of what his grandfather had at the same age? That 70 percent of college-aged men regularly view pornography? That one in three college-aged males reports erectile dysfunction? Some use Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra, others have given up on the dating scene entirely and rely on pornography as their only sexual outlet.
If I could beg my readers for something, it is to read the book, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Dr. Leonard Sax.
Below is a summary of the factors Dr. Sax thinks are responsible for what he calls “this weird new virus of apathy” affecting males.
Factor 1: Kindergarten is the new first grade. Schools disenfranchise boys with too-early reading and writing, removal of competition, and abstract knowledge favored over hands-on knowledge. Females thrive in this environment, males do not.
Factor 2: Video games affect the part of the prefrontal cortex, different in males than females, that controls real-world drive and motivation. We’ve all experienced the rapidly growing species of irritable, socially-isolated males with no interest in anything but video games.
Factor 3: ADHD drugs (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate), prescribed primarily to boys so they can “sit still” in our new “feminized” schools, turn adventurous boys into a lazy boys.
Factor 4: Estrogen mimics, chemicals leached from plastic bottles into our water and soft drinks, have flooded our endocrine systems with female hormones.
Factor 5: Traditional rites of passage are absent. The transition from boy to man is not hard-wired, it must be taught. And it is — by Snoop Dog, Eminem, and Homer Simpson.
Dr. Sax lays out the most documented evidence for the male crisis that I’ve seen to date. There is no preaching and he wraps up the book with solutions. Please read Boys Adrift. Our boys — and all of us — are depending upon it.